- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"I doubt it."
The stage was set. At exactly 5:11 p.m. we entered the Cardinal office on the street level at Busch Stadium. Determined to appear confident, I walked briskly toward the World Series temporary reception desk and immediately encountered the home-run king Roger Maris and sportscaster Joe Garagiola. Pausing very briefly to catch my breath, I moved through the crowded room. Because I'd urged Kenny and the boys to drive the 500 miles and because I was the guy who hadn't been able to find a single ticket in spite of a day of frantic phone-calling, I was willing to try anything. I brushed past the home-run king and calmly said, to the receptionist, "Call George and tell him Grady Jim is here."
The woman looked up from the desk without expression, a veteran at repulsing gate-crashers and con artists. She examined my face, apparently trying to determine if I were telling truth. "What's your name?" she said sharply.
"Grady Jim," I repeated with a devil-may-care tone. "Call George Hendrick, please, he's looking for us downstairs."
When in doubt, be bold. Act like you know what you are doing, right? That's what we always say.
With a weary sigh, the woman picked up the phone and dialed. Dozens of busy journalists, ballplayers' friends, Anheuser-Busch big shots and other notables milled about the room waiting to be escorted inside the stadium to do whatever it is people do who are lucky enough to get into the inner sanctum.
"Hello, is George in the locker room?" the receptionist asked.
There was a pause; it seemed a very long time while she awaited word. Was he on the field already? Would he remember our brief conversation? How many other calls just like this one had he received today?
Finally she said, "Hello, George, there's a Grady Jim here to see you, and he's got some kids with him."
Perspiration popped out along my upper lip and a cold chill crawled up my rigid spine. The woman repeated my name, and I knew George had said, "Who?"